Friday, June 5, 2009

The Zollie Tree

The Zollie Tree by Raymond E. Myers

The Zollie Tree is part biography of Confederate General Felix Zollicoffer and part story of the battle of Mill Springs. Zollicoffer is an interesting person in his own right but I picked up the book because of Mill Springs.

I was a little disappointed that Mill Springs isn't covered in more detail, it is probably the one thing we know of Zollicoffer. I finished the book being confused to some details of the fight so I requested Kenneth Hafendorfer's book on the battle from the library. I have only opened it to peak at maps and illustrations. The maps are wonderful but I'm not sure I'll be reading the book any time soon, its nearly 700 pages long and not important enough to me to vault to the top of Mt. Tooberead. I'll probably scan some maps before I return it to the library without reading much of the book at all.

One thing Myers wrote about which changed my view is the circumstance of Zollicoffer's death. The story I've heard the most is that Zollicoffer was very nearsighted and approached the Union lines thinking they were his own troops and was then shot when Union Colonel Speed S. Fry realized who he was talking to. Myers instead says that Zollicoffer was in the Union lines because the smoke was too thick. Sure his sight played into it but the primary reason he was there was the thick battle smoke.


Slamdunk said...

Wow, 700 pages--that would be a scan and return library book.

Interesting about his death. Being only a CW novice, I am guessing that that type of mistaken identity happened frequently.

Nick said...

It does seem like generals wander near the wrong lines quite often. There truly is a lot of smoke on a battlefield. Usually high ranking officers seem to escape just fine though there are other instances of them sharing Zollicoffer's fate.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm. Interesting. Not long ago I was reading something written by a soldier (I think he was not an officer...just an infantry man, probably a private) who said that every Civil War painting he'd ever seen portrayed officers on their horses, saber raised, in the thick of the fight, but (said he) his experience was that when the cannons began to belch, most of the officers were behind the biggest trees. Evidently Zollicoffer was not one of them.

By the way, nice blog. I've bookmarked it.